Mint julep is pretty much a mint-sugar bourbon concoction often presented today as the classic julep. Back in the 1700s and 1800s, juleps were made with any spirit; gin julep, rum julep, and madeira juleps. The original julep was made with the purpose to mask and mellow bitter remedies, making them easier to ingest.
The word julep comes from the Persian “golab” or “rose water” an aromatic distillation of rose petals and water used as medicine, cosmetic, and flavoring in food and drink. It’s one of the many ways the history of alcohol intersects with the history of medicine.
By the 19th century the cocktail started to appear as a social drink. The reason it became associated with whiskey, especially bourbon, has a lot to do with the state of the American south a century ago. Julep was the most popular drink in the south. But bourbon was accessible to people no matter what their social status.
Today there are several types of juleps: Mint, spices julep, southern style julep, sparkling julep, and many others. Mint is a strong and refreshing herb with an uncanny ability to take over the garden. Look for bright leaves with fresh aroma.
Makes 1 drink
1 tablespoon turbinado sugar
1 tablespoon water
10 mint leaves
¼ cup bourbon (I used Jim Beam Whiskey)
¼ cup coconut water
- In a saucepan, boil sugar and water until sugar is completely dissolved. Cool at room temperature.
- Place the mint leaves and syrup a julep cup and lightly press with a muddler. Leave the muddler and add the bourbon and coconut water pouring it over the muddler. Stir well, mashing with the muddler. Fill the cup a little more than half- way with crushed ice and stir with a bar spoon. Add more ice to form a dome on top. Place the straw in the cup. Garnish with mint and dusted powder sugar on top.